Plantar Fasciitis

Throughout the course of a day we take thousands of steps. Loading our feet with our entire body weight each time. This can quickly add up to an increadible amount of joint and ligament stress in just one day. Of course we're well equipped to deal with these stresses or we'd all have debilitation foot problems. One of those adaptations is called our plantar fascia. A very strong elastic tissue which stretches along the sole of our foot from heel to toes.

With every step our body weight flattens the natural arch of our feet and to lift that arch back up would require a great deal of energy. Imagine rising up on your toes using your calf muscles 1000 times per day. Instead our plantar fascia absorbs the energy of our flattening arch by stretching. Then as we shift our weight off that foot the elastic recoils and drives us up onto our toes as we finish our step.

Plantar fascia injury

There are many factors that can take that efficient stretch-recoil mechanism from beneficial to painful. Some people have feet that are able to flatten too much or their plantar fascia has been allowed to shorten too much (i.e. constantly wearing heel or having poor flexibility). In either case this will cause the fascia to be stretched beyond it's normal limit, this leads to tearing. A change in activity, footwear or ground surface can also take a healthy foot to a painful foot in very little time. Unsupportive shoes, a sudden increase in running speed or distance or walking on a very hard surface (i.e. concrete) can also cause trauma to your plantar fascia.

The overstretching and tearing could leave you off your feet for a few days if it happens once. A weekend basketball tournament and you're toast. But if you take away the aggravator (i.e. being the starting pointguard/hero) quickly you foot will normally recover. However if you've decided to wear flip flops all summer, have jumped head strong into running this season with last years runners or have just started a factory job on a concrete floor you'll have no time to allow you feet to recover. Meaning each day the tearing is replaced by scar tissue leaving your plantar fascia less elastic and more likely to tear again.

Who do I see?

If you feel the above description is similar to your own foot condition you should consult with your family doctor or family chiropractor and may need a referral to a podiatrist in severe cases. You should expect treatments such as tissue massage or instrument assisted massage such as Graston or Guasha, they may suggest over the counter or custom foot orthotics, stretching exercises and foot strengthening exercises. Other treatment options may include shockwave therapy and/or acupuncture.

 

What can I do right now?

Like I said before if you take away the aggravator early enough your feet can recover. If you started running or walking take a good look at your shoes, your distance and how often you go. If you reflect on your life and activities you'll like see something stand out. Beyond that there are some self-care option as well.

  • Light leg stretching: calf and hamstring stretches done lightly for 20-30 seconds daily
  • tennis or golf ball rolling: under the sole of your foot for 30 seconds every morning before you take your first step
  • wear supportive shoes: steer clear of flat shoes and pick structured sneakers instead.
  • rub your feet: lightly rubbing your thumb from heel to toe on the sole of your foot can release some tension in your plantar fascia. Start slow on this one, it can also be aggravating if done too aggressively.
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The above recommendation of self-care for plantar fasciitis should not replace recommendations from your health care provider or your own judgement regarding your foot pain. If you feel your foot pain warrants immediate care you should seek immediate care. The above information is meant to provide general information and not a specific directions to treat your foot pain.

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